I was anticipating a huge, monstrously bombastic performance of the First Concerto under the fingers of the powerful and technically phenomenal Matsuev, and he did not disappoint in that regard.
Few pianists would seem to be more adept at the sometimes quite un-pianistic writing that the 34-year-old non-pianist Tchaikovsky would create, pouring his heart into the work only to have it shot down by the original dedicatee, the oft-times thuggish Nicolai Rubinstein, who called it “worthless and unplayable”.
This Mariinsky CD includes Concertos 1 and 2. The Concerto No. 1, not too popular at the first performance, has become the benchmark for today’s virtuoso display. I recently heard it live with Bronfman and Dudamel in Los Angeles; it never loses its appeal. Matsuev manages much of Bronfman’s power, but under the critical ear of the microphone, his technique is flawless and Gergiev accompanies beautifully. Only one flat horn phrase in the 2nd Concerto suggests that the Mariinsky Orchestra is almost the completed project. As such, it fares better than some of the recent Shostakovich Symphonies — same conductor, recording company, and hall.
The Russian pianist Denis Matsuev has already shown his dazzling virtuosity on record in works by Shostakovich, Shchedrin, Rachmaninov and others. On this new generously filled (78'32”) SACD from the Mariinsky label he performs both of Tchaikovsky's completed Piano Concertos accompanied by Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra.
La Rapsodia sobre un tema de Paganini (1934) de Sergei Rachmaninov fue la obra común a los dos programas presentados este año, que permitió por un lado conocer al brillante pianista ruso Denis Matsuev, pero también volver a percibir que la concentración de cada atril, la perfecta afinación y el justo equilibrio sonoro siguen siendo una marca distintiva de la orquesta holandesa.
Denis Matsuev, an extraordinary pianist, offers, as part of the 140th anniversary of the birth of Sergei Rachmaninoff an album that confronts the Concerto No. 2 with the Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin. A confrontation at first somewhat unexpected between the romanticism of the Russian and the American jazz rhythm. Yet these two composers are closely related to New York City where this album was recorded in collaboration with the orchestra of this city, under the baton of Music Director Alan Gilbert.
A l’occasion des 140 ans de la naissance de Rachmaninov, la philharmonie de Moscou, l’orchestre symphonique d’Etat de Moscou et la salle Tchaïkovski offraient au public, deux soirées de prestige : Denis Matsuev, la grande star russe du piano, était dirigé par Leonard Slatkin dans des programmes évidement consacrés au grand compositeur. C’était également l’occasion pour Matsuev de présenter son dernier disque, naturellement consacré à Rachmaninov et à son Concerto n°2.
Adulé du public moscovite qui lui réserve un accueil des plus enthousiastes avant de le couvrir de fleurs, Denis Matsuev osait affronter, sur un même concert, les deux concertos de Rachmaninov les plus célèbres : les Concertos n°2 et n°3, sorte de soirée orgiaque à laquelle peu de pianistes oseraient se confronter. Bien évidement Mastuev combine la technique et la puissance digitale pour transcender ces deux partitions. Pourtant, le pianiste peine un peu à entrer dans le Concerto n°2. En dépit d’une aisance et d’une dynamique toujours phénoménales, Matsuev semble un peu sur la réserve, quant à Leonard Slatkin, il impose un accompagnement attentif et assez souple, en dépit d’une salle à l’acoustique très généreuse, qui fait étinceler la masse orchestrale. Changement d’ambiance avec un Concerto n°3 porté par une électricité indubitable. Soliste et chef font bloc pour imposer une lecture échevelée du concerto, transcendé par des musiciens touchés par la magie des très grands soirs. La force dramatique traverse cette interprétation qui prend place dans la droite ligne des lectures des grandes figures légendaires du piano.
Once Langeland had finished playing, the concert proper began. On the programme was Rachmaninoff’s third piano concerto and Nielsen’s fourth symphony. The soloist for the Rachmaninov concerto was the Russian pianist Denis Matsuev. This performance also marked his debut with the orchestra. His account of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no. 3 was truly ravishing. His playing was crystal clear, even during Rachmaninov’s most virtuosic writing, his phrasing natural, and he never slid into the kind of sentimental, overly romantic interpretation that can easily almost ruin a piece like this concerto. Matsuev also played the longer, more difficult, original first-movement cadenza. His use of pedal, however, was a tad too liberal and often managed to blur out some of the virtuosic passages.
At Heinz Hall recently, we saw the PSO's "A Night on Bald Mountain," Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7. Stunning. Explosive. Brilliant. Never heard the PSO play better or as one instrument. It was as if I was listening to "A Night On Bald Mountain" for the first time.
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev was grandly lyrical with unbelievable chops in the Rach 2 Piano Concerto. And when Mr. Matsuev encored with an Oscar Peterson-like brilliance on the Juan Tizol jazz standard, "Caravan," the packed house roared and the sitting orchestra members, stunned, responded in kind.
MONTREAL - My Moscow relatives were jealous when I told them I would hear Denis Matsuev play Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto at the Maison symphonique Thursday, and these are not easy people to impress. I had one cousin train an elephant to walk a tightrope between two balconies at a party — a three-ton beast, bejazzled in every way, who loped across with a triumphant teenager on top — and nobody noticed.
Turns out they were right to be jealous, but first there was the matter of The Seasons, the ballet by Glazunov — the same Glazunov who allegedly ruined the première of Rachmaninoff’s first symphony by conducting it drunk. Not a Russian tradition, in this case — it’s just what I think of whenever these two share a concert program.
Glazunov was a wunderkind, like Rachmaninoff, but from St. Petersburg instead of Moscow. He even managed to ride out the revolution, which comes to mind because there is something shrewd about his music, even with Mikhail Pletnev leading the OSM. It was a vivid performance and its more brilliant parts, like the Autumn Bacchanal, made me glad there weren’t dancers trying to keep up with Pletnev. He conducts like a man launching a yacht in a tuxedo, careful-don’t-get-mud-on-it movements bursting into Christ-I’ll-do-it-myself. But most of the suite just ran prettily past. No matter how finely the material is worked, it’s still not gold.
Expectations were high when Matsuev arrived. At 38, he looks like a big, rosy-cheeked Siberian boy, but he moves like a gallant; he could have entered in a litter. Pletnev and he passed for two men ignoring each other while performing a virtuoso duet; the opening theme’s octaves glided into the orchestral line as if they were played by one hand, and the first cadenza (the piano solo) was volcanic, a freakish release that cast Matsuev’s elegant composure into self-conscious relief. The finale was sublime, but the best was their wondrous Intermezzo, as balanced as a watch spring and as full of discoveries as the ocean in the dead of night.
This much beauty was almost a knockout after Glazunov’s pretty slapping, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the massive audience from giving the champion six trips to the door before he realized an encore was necessary. So he played two.